Thursday, January 13, 2011

The meaning of "sugagaki"

According to the 大辞泉 dictionary, sugagaki means;

1. One of the techniques used for the Japanese koto (wagon), which involves plucking all the strings at once from the near side and then stopping them except the third and fourth strings, using the left hand, so that the reverberation of these two
strings remains.

2. signifies koto or shamisen pieces, composed in the early edo period, which do not contain singing parts. An example is "rokudan sugagaki" (rokudan no shirabe).

3. A kind of shakuhachi honkyoku music. It's been said that this was originally an arrangement of the above kind (definition 2) but not certain. An example is "sanya sugagaki."

4. One of the shamisen phrases, a simple one, performed by a series of alternation between playing the second and third strings simultaneously AND plucking only the third string. During the edo time, prostitutes of the yoshiwara area performed to attract customers in front of the shop. Called "mise sugagaki."

5. A kind of "geza" music for kabuki that contains the #4 phrase mentioned above; it also refers to other kinds of shamisen music containing the #4 phrase. It is an indication of "kuruwa." (Geza music is played as background music behind the stage of kabuki performance where it is covered by a black blind. Kuruwa signifies an enclose area, such as a prostitution district, which in older times was enclosed by walls or trenches.

According to the 大辞林 dictionary,
Sugagaki (清掻・菅掻) is a noun of the verb "sugagaku."

1. One of the kata forms of wagon technique. It is often used in pieces as a basic form.

2. Koto or shamisen pieces composed in the early edo period that do not contain a singing part.

3. Often written as 菅垣, it is attached to names of shakuhachi honkyoku pieces, such as "sanya sugagaki." The original may mean the music of stringed instruments.

4. The kind of music prostitutes played inside the lattice of a sex house to while waiting for customers. It is a form of shamisen music with no singing part. "Mise sugagaki."

5. A kind of geza music, performed in the scene of yoshiwara.

Shimeda Takashi writes in 日本大百科全書 that: written 菅掻、清攬、or 菅垣. Generally, it refers to a set of instrumental music from the kinsei (16th-19th century). It is a name of instrumental music played with so (koto), shamisen, and hitoyogiri, which tends to be introductory pieces. This kind of pieces are included in "shichiku shoshinshu" (『糸竹初心集』(1664) and "oonusa" (『大ぬさ』(1685).
There are also many koten honkyoku shakuhachi pieces that have a sugagaku title, such as "akita sugagaki" and "nidan sugagaki."
It is a basic technique used for the wagon. It also refers to phrases that include
this technique.
Also used for the gakuso (a koto used in gagaku music) for the same reason.

It also serves as the name of phrases used in shamisen music. It began`as a simple expression played by prostitutes in the Yoshiwawa of Edo as a means to attract customers. It was later included in theater music and became an expression of the yoshiwara and kuruwa (red district). Its applications can be found in tokiwazu, kiyomoto, and nagauta (styles of music).

According to the 日本国語大辞典,
Sugagaki is a technique used in wagon playing... There are two ways: Plucking the strings from the far side, called jungaki, and plucking from the near side, called gyakugaki. [I think the combination of these two is called katagaki.]

According to the 日本国語大辞典,
Sugagaku 清掻 as a verb means playing some notes sporadically rather than performing
a piece or a set of technique.

[Example: "You shouldn't sugagaku (play around or improvise)but play hon-choshi or tsu-re everyday."]
I was told that Akita sugagaki is a "soft" piece whereas koku, monbiraki, shinya, etc. are "hard" pieces. Sugagaki may carry some "feminine" connotations....